GEORGE TOWN: An eight-lane highway is planned for Gurney Drive following the completion of reclamation works there which will help disperse traffic created from the Sri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2) project at Tanjung Tokong. Penang Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng (pix) said the highway was still in the conceptual stage and will be situated on the portion of the reclaimed land. He said the highway will serve to alleviate traffic congestion by being connected to the proposed Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang paired road as well as the Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass. He said the cost was estimated between RM300million to RM400million and was "to be borne by the state at this point in time" but that discussions on financing were still ongoing. "This will benefit the state," he said when asked about the social and political cost of the proposed project at an ad-hoc press conference today after he wound up the debate on the Supply Bill 2017 at the Penang Legislature. The reclamation at Gurney Drive is undertaken by developer E&O under Phase 2A of the STP2 project at a cost of RM1.07billion with the 24.28ha reclamation of the Gurney shorefront expected to be completed by mid-2018. Other than the highway, a seafront promenade – Gurney Wharf – with seafront retail and food and beverage (F&B) elements, is also being planned. Lim dismissed allegations the reclaimed area will be used for high-rise projects as feared by critics of the project. "The reclaimed portion will only be for the the eight-lane highway and recreational use (Gurney Wharf and the beach created after reclamation)," he added. On the ferry service being upgraded by using catamaran vessels, Lim said this was proposed by Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) which is the ferry operator. He said the upgrade can help in minimising the annual RM25million loss experienced by PPSB as the new vessels need fewer crew to operate, required less fuel and less maintenance. "The state however wants the operator to retain two of the existing ferries for tourism purposes," he said noting the current vessels were icons for Penang. On the proposed Skycab project, a cable car project spanning the Penang Channel, Lim said Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) has obtained the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA) approval from the Department of Environment (DOE). He said the project was now in the design stages and that he understood work was expected to start in 2018.